Microsoft has introduced a few changes to the way Windows handles default applications. Want Windows 10 to treat VLC as your default media player and Firefox as your default web browser? You can do that — but you might have to jump through a few hoops.


If you’re upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and want to keep your existing default apps, just make sure not to accept Microsoft’s Express settings.

Express Settings will override your existing defaults and set Microsoft Edge as your default web browser and Microsoft’s Photos, Music, and Films & TV apps will all replace your existing defaults. But if you skip the express settings, you can unselect any of these and keep your preferences intact.

Folks at Firefox web browser maker Mozilla are complaining that the fact that you have to effectively opt-out instead of opting in to the new defaults is anti-competitive. Mozilla CEO Chris Beard wrote an open letter to Microsoft about the issue, and the company also notes that it takes more steps to change your default browser after Windows 10 is installed than it used to… kind of.


It’s true that apps like Firefox that ask you if you’d like to set them as your defaults the first time you launch them, now have to walk you through a few more steps before the change is complete.

But if you don’t wait for apps to prompt you, it’s possible to change your defaults pretty quickly.

Just type “default app” into the Windows Search bar, choose the option that says “default app settings,” and you’ll see a list of defaults for:

  • calendar
  • email
  • maps
  • music player
  • photo viewer
  • video player
  • web browser

Click on any icon to get a list of available apps and choose the one you’d like to set as the default. Set foobar2000 as your default media player, and every time you try to open an MP3, WAV, or other supported filed type, it’ll open in foobar2000 instead of Groove.

Toward the bottom of this screen you’ll also see options to “Choose default apps by file type” or protocol. These bring up more detailed menus that let you associate .3gp files with one app, and .ogg files with another, for example. Or you can set your default FTP app for links that open the FTP or FTPS protocol.

Finally, there’s the “Set defaults by app” option which gives you even more control over which apps can open which files.

Mozilla may be right that a lot of people will choose express settings while setting up Windows 10 and find that their defaults have been changed. But there are plenty of ways to change them back.


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5 replies on “Windows 10: How to choose default apps”

  1. anyone else set like vlc for video player yet still it tries to make you use there own media player?

  2. What I thought a little irritating was that even after you select “Use firefox as my default browser” it takes you to another screen (after a couple seconds) that still shows Edge as the default browser and you have to then select Firefox (or whatever) as the default browser again from there. Sort of annoying, but not exactly rocket science.
    I should clarify, this is if you just try to launch Firefox, instead of messing with the settings ahead of time.

  3. O… M… G….

    I have to click “Settings” then “System” before I can change my default apps? What an OUTRAGE!!!!

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